The demographic distribution of US drinking patterns in 1990: description and trends from 1984

Am J Public Health. 1994 Aug;84(8):1218-22. doi: 10.2105/ajph.84.8.1218.


Objectives: Since 1981, per capita consumption of alcohol (based on sales figures) has decreased in the United States. This study describes drinking patterns in the 1990 national alcohol survey by demographic correlates and assesses changes in drinking patterns from the 1984 survey.

Methods: Data were obtained from a national household probability sample within the 48 contiguous states; face-to-face interviews were conducted with 2058 adults. The instrument contained questions pertaining to the respondent's background, attitudes toward alcohol, and use of alcohol.

Results: The proportions of current drinkers; current drinkers of wine, beer, and liquor; weekly drinkers; and drinkers who reported having five or more drinks per occasion at least once a week were significantly lower in 1990 than in 1984. These changes remained significant when demographic characteristics were controlled by logistic regression. The findings held for Whites only; there were no significant trends for Blacks or Hispanics.

Conclusions: While there has been a downward turn in alcohol use in the United States, the correlates of alcohol use have not changed. How these shifts affect alcohol-related problems is an important area for future research.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Alcohol Drinking / trends*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology